Predicting and classifying hearing loss in sailors working on speed vessels using neural networks: a field study
Keywords:Noise, Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), Modelling, Neural Network (NN)
Background: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the main risk factors affecting people's health and wellbeing in the workplace. Analysing NIHL and consequently controlling the causing factors can significantly affect the improvement of working environments. Methods: One hundred and twelve male sailors participated in this study. They were classified into three groups depending on occupational noise exposure: (A) none, i.e., sound pressure level (SPL) lower than 70dBA, (B) exposed to SPL in the range of 70-85dBA, and (C) exposed to SPL exceeding 80dBA. In a first phase, hearing loss shaping risk factors were identified and analysed, including hearing loss in different frequencies, age, work experience, sound pressure level (SPL), marital status, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Then, neural networks were trained to predict the hearing loss changes of personnel and used to determine the weight of hearing loss factors. Finally, the accuracy of predicting models was calculated relying on Bayesian statistics. Results and conclusion: In the present study using neural networks, five models were developed. Their accuracy ranged from 92% to 100%. The frequencies of 4000Hz and 2000Hz showed the strongest association with the hearing loss of the sailors. Also, including systolic and diastolic blood pressure did not have any impact on predicted hearing loss, indicating that SPL was poorly correlated with extra-auditory effects.
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